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Spain begins defense of title by routing Croatia 68-40 at European basketball champs

Spain limited Croatia to three points in the final quarter and began its bid for a third straight European basketball title with a 68-40 victory on Wednesday.

Marc Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Rudy Fernandez added 15 points, Jose Calderon had 13 and Ricky Rubio had seven assists to go with seven points as Spain dominated the Group C match in Celje, outscoring Croatia 19-3 in the fourth.

Calderon hit a 3-pointer for a 47-29 lead in the third quarter.

Spain is seeking to become the first team to win three consecutive European titles since Yugoslavia in the 1970s. The Spaniards are playing without stars Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Juan Carlos Navarro.

Bojan Bogdanovic had 12 points for Croatia.

In Group B in Jesenice, Montenegro edged Macedonia, a semifinalist two years ago, 81-80, with American-born guard Tyrese Ryce making two free throws with 10 seconds remaining. Bo McCalebb, another American-born guard, led Macedonia with 23 points but missed a layup to win the game.

Greece rolled past Sweden 79-51 in Group D.

Also, Kyle Johnson scored 22 points and Kieron Achara added 18 with 13 rebounds to lead Britain to a 75-71 overtime upset over Israel in the first Group A match.